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88 Energy poised to flow test Hickory-1 in Alaska

88 Energy’s Hickory-1 well in Alaska. Credit: File

88 Energy will flow test four reservoir zones in its Hickory-1 oil well in Alaska’s north during the coming winter operational season.

Hickory-1 – part of the company’s project Phoenix, which was previously known as Icewine East – is cased and suspended awaiting the arrival of Rig-111, which is expected to start re-entry of the well from next month.

The rig will be contracted from All American Oilfield, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chugach Alaska Corporation, which is an Alaskan Native Corporation that was founded in 1971. The machinery recently had upgrades completed on its mast and 88 Energy says it is well suited for the task at Hickory-1.

The execution of a rig contract is another important step as we advance towards the Hickory-1 well flow testing program planned for the 2023/2024 Alaskan winter operational season. We continue to be very encouraged by progress by our northern neighbour, Pantheon Resources, who recently announced a material, independently estimated, 2C contingent resource for the Lower Basin Floor Fan reservoir. 3 The Basin Floor Fan reservoir was the deepest of the multiple hydrocarbon-bearing pay zones intersected as part of the Hickory-1 exploration well. This reservoir, along with our primary, high-priority SMD, Upper SFS and SFS targets, is planned to be flow tested as part of the upcoming program. 88 Energy managing director and chief executive officer Ashley Gilbert.

Hickory-1 was drilled in March this year and reached a depth of 3246m, falling just short of the permitting depth of 3810m. The company made the decision to end the hole in order to preserve its condition to allow wireline logging.

The well was designed to appraise up to six conventional reservoirs within primary targets in the shelf margin delta (SMD) A, B and C intervals, secondary targets in the slope fan system (SFS) and basin floor fan (BFF) and a tertiary target in the Kuparuk (KUP), which was not drilled.

The company has previously said all reservoirs were hit at slightly higher than forecast depths and all have gross reservoir thickness equal to or greater than that prognosed.

88 Energy says flow testing will assess the SMD, SFS and BFF zones, which have respective net un-risked mid-case prospective oil resources of 140, 84 and 341 million standard barrels of oil (MMstb).

Management says drilling and flow testing by Pantheon Resources at its Kodiak project last month, in acreage on trend to the north and adjacent to the Phoenix project, returned encouraging results for the lower basin floor fan reservoir.

An independent quotation of the best-technical estimate of contingent resource (2C) sighted 314.6 MMstb of oil, 647.9 MMstb of natural gas liquids (NGL) and 4465.2 billion cubic feet (BCF) of residual gas for the comparable reservoir, which has been mapped into the Phoenix project area.

Significantly, Pantheon says the NGLs on its Alaskan projects are of material value as they can be blended with the oil. The combined stream of oil, condensate and NGLs has been estimated by Pantheon to yield about 90 per cent of the value of the Alaska North price per barrel.

88 Energy has held the Phoenix project acreage since 2015 and has drilled two wells – Icewine-1 in 2016 and Icewine-2 the following year. The wells were designed with a focus on deep reservoirs, but penetrated 116m of net oil pay within SMD level sands.

Management says the project name change from Icewine East to Phoenix represents the company’s exploration strategy shift from the deep targets to the shallower one – specifically the SMD sands that have proven oil pay in creatable sequences in the Icewine wells.

88 Energy says the post-drill interpretation of Hickory-1 produced encouraging results, with all reservoir intervals having hydrocarbon “shows” during drilling, suggesting their pores contain oil or other hydrocarbon-related fluids.

Hickory-1 suggested the three SMD reservoirs have about 30m of net pay and about 10.5 per cent average porosity, while the upper SFS reservoir has about 24m of net pay and about 16 per cent average porosity and the lower SFS reservoir has about 37m net pay and about 10.5 per cent average porosity. The BFF reservoir is interpreted to have about 49m of net pay and about 9.5 per cent average porosity.

Net pay estimates the portion of the reservoir rock that will produce commercial quantities, or the part of a reservoir that will help support production of hydrocarbons in several field development timescales.

The flow test at Hickory-1 will provide management with hard-data to ground truth estimates and potentially demonstrate the existence of moveable petroleum in the reservoirs by establishing flow to the surface. It may also provide an indication of the potential productivity of the reservoir.

88 Energy is the operator of project Phoenix and has a 75 per cent stake in the 250-square-kilometre site. The project is surrounded by market-ready infrastructure, as it sits adjacent to the Trans Alaskan Pipeline (TAP) and the 666km-long Dalton Highway that runs from Deadhorse in the north to the Elliot Highway in the south.

The TAP provides the company with immediate export infrastructure and is one of the world’s biggest oil pipeline systems, consisting of 11 pump-stations and the ice-free Valdez marine terminal at its southern terminus.

Management says it is progressing with flow test design work in consultation with industry experts, while negotiating contracts for long lead items required for the testing.

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